Archive for December 2007


New Year’s Eve

December 31st, 2007 — 8:36pm

Woke up at 6am this morning, so I got pretty tired as the day wore on. Henry and I went to the zoo for a while in the morning, said hello to Sunny the Komodo Dragon and wandered through the Children’s Zoo, which we hadn’t seen in forever. They’ve got a new insect house with many truly stomach-churning insects and a wonderful zookeeper explaining their horribleness in great detail. The otters were playing and swimming, and we also saw a beautiful ocelot. We watched him for a long time. Henry said that although Sunny is is overall favorite, the ocelot was his favorite of the day.

Came home, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, etc. Returned the shower head we bought yesterday and got a different one. Dan and Henry played Super Mario Galaxy a lot. They love it! I haven’t had a turn yet but it looks great. For dinner I made a chicken and cauliflower thing that everyone likes, which I invented.

Thaw out some chicken and cut it into more-or-less bite-size chunks. Saute in a large pan until it’s just about done. Then add about half a jar of good tomato sauce and an entire cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets. Add salt/pepper/whatever to taste. Stir it around and cook gently until the cauliflower is juuuust tender. You can serve it over rice or just plain. Grate up some good parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on top of each serving. I had a half a bag of Trader Joe’s Soycotash hanging around so I threw that in while the chicken was cooking and it added a nice touch and made it go a little further.

I wanted something nice and fruity for dessert but very simple so I checked allrecipies.com for something to make with frozen strawberries and heavy cream, and I found something yummy: Chilled Strawberry Cream! I used a whole 12-oz bag of strawberries and half a cup of granulated sugar. My blender didn’t enjoy grinding up a whole bag of strawberries, so I did them a few at a time with a splash of milk. Next time I’ll let them thaw for a little while before blending. It was fantastic! Hmmm, I think it would work with frozen peaches, too.

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Christmas knitting

December 29th, 2007 — 8:43am

Ok, now I can finally post photos of some of the things I knit for my family for Christmas!

Kirsten’s fingerless mitts, designed by me, knit in Knitpicks’ Palette:

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Mom’s mitts, designed by me, knit in Knitpicks’ Palette:

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Marcos’s Zeebee Beanie (made with five repeats to accommodate his ginormous head, and knit longer so he can turn up the brim if he wants), designed by Schmeebot, knit in Knitpicks’ Essential (two strands held together):

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Dan’s modified Nine-to-Five socks, designed by Nicole, knit in Knitpicks’ Essential:

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And I’m still working on Henry’s DNA socks. I’ve gotten a bit further than this photo shows, and am working instep increases now:

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We’re home!

December 27th, 2007 — 10:34pm

We’re home from El Cerrito! We had a fantastic time with my sister but of course it’s very good to be home :) It only took a bit over eight hours to get home, as opposed to the ten it took to get there, because we timed it so we’d be driving through LA at night (got to the Grapevine at 7pm). Also we took the 405 instead of the 5 — more miles, but on a clearer and much more civilized freeway. Anyway, I’m exhausted, more soon.

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Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2007 — 9:14am

Merry Christmas! Dan, Henry, and I are spending Christmas with my sister Kirsten and her husband. They live in a nice house on a hill in El Cerrito, which is just north of Berkeley. We can see San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge out their front windows! We drove up here on Saturday, which took 10 hours, half of which was spent going 200 miles through Los Angeles. Bah! We’ve been having a great time, eating, playing games, cooking, watching fun tv and Christmas movies, etc.

Right now, Henry, Kirsten, and I are lined up on the couch with laptops, playing games and waiting for the men to wake up so we can open presents. And it’s time to put the turkey in the oven, brb…

Ok turkey is in the oven. I’m doing it the same way I did the Thanksgiving turkey, following the slow cooking instructions at How To Cook A Turkey Perfectly. Yesterday Kirsten made a pumpkin pie and I made an apple one. And we’ve got things for stuffing, and rosemary rolls, and good cranberry sauce, and green beans, and other things.

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More William, Chapter 14

December 24th, 2007 — 8:30am

More William, by Richmal Crompton.
Read by me!
Chapter 14: William’s Christmas Eve

End of the book! Hope you enjoyed it, and Merry Christmas!

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Zoot’s roflcopter

December 17th, 2007 — 10:28am

Zoot brought his roflcopter to Honor Hold so a few of the guildies could admire it. That’s Zinny (Henry) on the left, on the big white tiger. I’m in the middle with the blue ponytail. Dita, our guild leader, is riding the ram, and that’s her fellow, Holyberry, on the right. We have the world’s best guild!

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Zoot then applied some holly (from the Metzen quest) to his ‘copter and it became a flying reindeer. Awesome!

Henry seemed droopy and faded over the weekend. I thought he was probably coming down with something, and, sure enough, last night he developed a sore throat. I haven’t been feeling quite right for days, so I hope I either had it in some other form, won’t get it, or will get it SOON so I can get it over with before Christmas! Henry’s feeling a lot better today, so I’m sure he’ll be right as rain in a couple days. He’s been playing an rpg with some homeschool friends via yahoo messenger and having a lot of fun.

We’re getting settled in our new place. We got the heater fixed finally (The guy who “fixed” it last week didn’t actually fix it, so we paid to get it done, because the landlord was SO SLOW and we were freezing — it’s been 38 degrees at night) and now we’re waiting for them to come and fix our eight sparking electrical outlets. But other than that, it’s a fantastic little house. Snug, nicely laid out, lots of windows, very comfortable. I love living here! No stairs!

Also, since we had hookups but no machines (the landlord lied about laundry machines being included) we splurged on an inexpensive but brand-new washer and dryer. They were delivered on Sunday and they just WORK. They’re in a little room right off the kitchen. It’s the height of luxury, I tell you!

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More William, Chapter 13

December 17th, 2007 — 8:30am

More William, by Richmal Crompton.
Read by me!
Chapter 13: William and the Ancient Souls

1 comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

Beef and vegetable crock-pot soup

December 13th, 2007 — 8:48pm

By popular demand (Lena!), my recipe for Dan’s favorite soup. Sorry I don’t have any specific amounts — use more of the things you like and less of the things you don’t.

You’ll need:
A crock pot
A handful of green beans
A handful of baby carrots
A sweet red or green bell pepper (or both)
An onion
A couple of stalks of celery
A can of Roma (Italian) tomatoes
Beef of some sort. I get whatever looks good and doesn’t cost more than $3/pound. Get anywhere from one to three pounds, depending on how beefy you want your soup and how much you want to make.
A thing of good beef broth
Salt, pepper, thyme
(Other optional veggies — cabbage, mushrooms, whatever you like)

Ok. Cut up your veggies and toss them into the crock pot. Trim the fat off your beef, cut it into bite-size chunks, and brown it, a handful at a time, in a little oil in a big skillet. As it browns, add it to the pot. Cut up the Roma tomatoes and pour them with their juice into the pot. Now add some of the beef broth but NOT TOO MUCH, maybe to an inch or so below the top of the things in the pot. The veggies will cook down and everything will get wetter, and if you start with too much broth it’ll be a very thin soup. Add salt, pepper, and a few pinches of thyme. Cook it all day on low, or for maybe 5 or 6 hours on high, depending on your crock pot. When the green beans and carrots are nice and soft, it’s done.

This freezes very well so make lots! I usually make this on Monday so Dan can look forward to a few more servings through the week. I prefer my veggie/barley soup, so I tend to make that on Friday so I can eat it all weekend :) We both like soup!

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Meat

December 12th, 2007 — 8:52pm

Last night Henry and I went out to get meat so I could make crockpot beef/veggie soup today (Dan’s favorite). I make it on Mondays, usually, but missed last Monday and Dan was yearning for his soup :) Up in Oceanside we shopped at Stater Brothers, a good no-club-card grocery store with a real butcher counter. I like being able to say, “I’d like about two and a half pounds of the flank steak, please” (or whatever is suitable and on sale) and then the nice butcher weighs it and asks me if it’s ok and then wraps it up. Very pleasant. There are no Stater Brothers stores in our part of town, so we tried Ralph’s. Yuck. No butcher! And a very bad selection of possible soup meat. I got something good enough, but it was smaller and more expensive than I’m used to. Also they do the club card thing, which I refuse to participate in. Also the store was FREEZING.

I figured the homeschool community could help me find a better source of meat (and whatever Trader Joe’s doesn’t have) so I posted to the yahoo list and got back some very helpful replies. They say that Henry’s Market (which used to be Boney’s) has a real butcher. There’s a Henry’s just past the Ralph’s, so I’ll try there first. They should also have some of the other things that I can’t get at Trader’s, such as barley and cabbage. There’s also a genuine butcher shop down on Morena Blvd, not very far away, which would be fun to try as well. And some folks get small quantities of expensive but, you know, organic/free range meats at Whole Foods. So I have a lot of options and I feel better.

Henry and I went to the laundromat today. It was clean and uncrowded, but very expensive. We left the laundry washing there (it was a front-loading machine, so I figured if anyone tried to steal our stuff they’d get soaking wet) and walked over to the nearby Longs for a few things. They have a touch-screen computer assistant to help you find what you want in the pharmacy. It worked great and was very entertaining! However, we will keep picking up our prescriptions at the Stater Brothers pharmacy. Howard and Jeff recognize my voice when I call them. How can I give that up? (At least as long as I still have to go north a couple of times a week anyway :)

Oh, and we got our Christmas tree today and set it up. Maybe I’ll post a photo tomorrow.

4 comments » | Blog

Moved in

December 11th, 2007 — 9:59am

We’re in our new rental house, yay! The heating system didn’t work for the first two days we were here, and it was down near freezing every night — brr! But Dan made the landlord send someone out to fix it yesterday so we are finally warm enough :) It’s a great little house, very comfortable. Dan set up the network on Sunday so now we have internet! I still need to clean the old place and bring down a couple more carloads of awkward things, lamps and posters and whatnot.

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More William, Chapter 12

December 10th, 2007 — 8:30am

More William, by Richmal Crompton.
Read by me!
Chapter 12: The Reform of William

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More William, Chapter 11

December 3rd, 2007 — 8:30am

More William, by Richmal Crompton.
Read by me!
Chapter 11: William and the Smuggler

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Packing and two photos

December 2nd, 2007 — 10:00pm

Packed all weekend. Bah. Got rid of lots of stuff but not enough! Dan found $60 cash in a box of floppy disks. Uh, ok… no idea how that got there, but hooray! Also watched A Private Function (Michael Palin, Maggie Smith) which I’d seen part of years ago, and which finally floated to the top of my greencine queue. Very enjoyable movie. And when it was over, the DVD player displayed this interesting error message poem for us:

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“System error is detected, system error is detected”

Also finished sewing 30 morsbags, made from many donated pillowcases and one old sheet. Sorry about the horrible photo:

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Note the elegant dog water dish under the table. The dog is so old and crippled that we moved her bed into the dining area, right by the door, so she doesn’t have to struggle over the slick floors to get out.

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